Truth truth beauty

I’ve been thinking about obsession, recently back from immersion in the obsessions of Monet. Those water lilies over and over and over, but each unique in either the way light is handled or the way line is handled, or some other arty ways I haven’t noticed because I’m not a visual artist and don’t know enough to notice. What was he trying to get at with all this obsessive looking at this one thing, these ponds he lived with, sweep of willow, arc of bridge, and the lilies the lilies the lilies? And why do we look at his looking with such avidity, tourists coursing his property, circling the rooms of his murals in the Orangerie, the rooms of the Marmatton? Could I make a career of just writing about my backyard, which I stare at every day, today a patter of early catalpa leaves like elk hoofprints across the fading grass, the burning bush the burning bush the burning bush? “It’s enough to drive you crazy, trying to depict the weather, the atmosphere, the ambience,” he was supposed to have written. Colors obsessed him. Is this an urge to communicate, or an urge to capture? Was the effort for himself, or for some Other? Generous or selfish, giving or grasping? About beauty, Simone Weil wrote, “We want to feed on it, but it is only an object we can look on; it appears to us from a certain distance. The great sorrow of human life is knowing that to look and to eat are two different operations.” I sometimes think that art is a different kind of eating. Looking is not enough. Eating is impossible. So we make art to feed ourselves. A different kind of bread.


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